Tag: Documentary

2021, Movies

Schumacher (2021, Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, Michael Wech)

This is an extremely workmanlike documentary about the first part of the career of Michael Schumacher and a tiny little bit about the accident. Much like the Jacques Cousteau documentary I just watched, it feels sanitized but in this case even more so. It also feels incomplete.

2021, Movies, TV

Attica (2021, Stanley Nelson)

All I really knew about Attica was the scene in Dog Day Afternoon, a movie I’ve seen way too many times. I had some vague idea of the riot, but that was it. This documentary collects interviews from the prisoners, the “Observer’s Committee” and the families of some of the guards to re-tell the story …

2017, Movies

The Dawn Wall (2017, Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer)

This is a pretty good documentary which I might have liked even more had I not stupidly already watched Free Solo first. I would strongly recommend that, if you’ve seen neither and you want to watch both, you watch The Dawn Wall first and Free Solo second. For one, that’s the chronological order of the …

1969, Movies

Le chagrin et la pitié [The Sorrow and the Pity] (1969), directed by Marcel Ophuls

Full disclosure: The DVD which I was watching basically failed 2/3-3/4 through part one, so I am sorry to say I did not actually watch the entire movie, just a majority of it (all of part 2 and, as I said, 2/3-3/4 of part 1). This documentary, made by the son of the great Max …

2019, Movies

El guardián de la memoria [The Guardian of Memory] (2019, Marcela Arteaga)

This is a gorgeous film – seriously it’s beautiful – about an awful subject, Mexicans fleeing Mexico due to persecution from cartels. It’s a little like Taming the Garden in terms of how pretty it is, though the shots are not as impressive as that documentary.

2021, Movies

Taming the Garden (2021, Salomé Jashi)

You know that scene in Fitzcarraldo when Herzog drags a boat over a mountain the rainforest to show the hubris and folly of man? Well, combine that theme with Mega Movers and a really great eye and you have some idea of this amazing documentary about a man buying up the great trees of Georgia …

2021, Movies

Dirty Tricks (2021, Daniel Sivan)

This is an entertaining and fairly even-handed documentary about a bridge cheating scandal back in 2015. It’s a fascinating story reminiscent of that recent poker scandal where the player claimed to be using his intuition and those who accused him claimed he couldn’t be so lucky.

2021, Movies

El Silencio del Topo (2021, Anaïs Taracena)

This is an artfully made documentary about a journalist-turned-government-press-secretary, which reveals a lot of about a terrible time in Guatemala’s history that I just knew nothing about. It’s a little short on context despite the fact that it clearly assumes a lack of knowledge about Guatemalan history, but it is still a fascinating attempt to …

2021, Movies

Dead Man’s Switch: a crypto mystery (2021, Sheona McDonald)

This is a hyper-stylized documentary about Quadriga, at one point Canada’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange. Somehow I completely missed this story as it happened, which is a little weird because I do pay some attention to tech stories and especially scams.

2021, Movies

Jobs for All (2021, Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck)

This is a short film which is basically a satire of the idea of “full employment” as a solution to our problems, as opposed to UBI or welfare. It’s not actually a documentary, as it is very much a satire and an advocacy film.

2013, Movies

The Last Pogo Jumps Again (2013, Colin Brunton, Kire Paputts)

This is an exhaustive documentary about the Toronto punk scene in the late 1970s. It is nearly 3 and a half hours long -supposedly cut down form 5 hours – which means that it is probably only for people interested in the scene or in the history of Toronto. But if you’re interested in punk …

2006, Movies

Muffins for Granny (2006, Nadia McLaren)

This is an artsy, dare I say ambitious, documentary about the survivors of Canada’s residential school system which desperately needs a bigger budget and a surer hand to achieve its goals. And that’s unfortunate, because it’s a story that definitely needs to be heard. I hope that someone has made something more successful since. (If …

2007, TV

Long Way Down (2007)

The sequel to Long Way Round is another excellent adventure travel documentary series featuring the same lovable cast of characters (i.e. a movie star, his far less famous friend, a Swiss camera man and some producers). This time they head from the top of Scotland to South Africa. There are similarities to the two series, …

2010, Movies

In the Name of the Family (2010, Shelley Saywell)

This is an episodic and workmanlike documentary about girls killed by their family members, ostensibly because they are not behaving correctly. It feels a little like it was made for TV but that could also just be the budget.

2013, TV

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis (2013)

This is a thorough, but very Frontline, overview of CTE back in 2013, right when the NFL lawsuit happened. It’s very clear it was mostly assembled beforehand, and then a few additional aspects of the story broke and they were incorporated into it before it aired.

2021, TV

Murder Among the Mormons (2021)

We watch Forensic Files. A lot of Forensic Files. (We’ve seen most of the original series, I would guess. At least a majority.) And they all sort of blend in together after a while. It often takes us a few minutes to realize we’ve seen an episode. Well, it took me well into the second episode of …

2019, TV

Country Music (2019)

This is an engrossing, thorough, occasionally moving and, for its first six episodes, authoritative history of country music. It follows the usual rhythms of a Ken Burns’ documentary, which is something I thoroughly enjoy, and has the usual strengths and weaknesses of his approach to storytelling.

2012, Movies

Coast Modern (2012, Mike Bernard, Gavin Froome)

This is a pretty but quite brief documentary about modernist domestic architecture on the West Coast of North America. If you like The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes or similar shows, you may like this. This is a lot more philosophical, as you might expect, but there are similar amounts of house porn.

2004, 2013, 2018, TV

The Staircase (2004, 2013, 2018)

Full disclosure: I am very biased when it comes to these types of stories. For the number of years I’ve been listening to wrongful conviction podcast called Undisclosed. I have listened to a number of other podcasts with similar themes. So I am more predisposed than ever to side with the defense over the prosecution, …

2010, Movies

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is a fascinating documentary about former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal and New York State and American political corruption in general. I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to the scandal at the time – I don’t care much about American gubernatorial politics – and assumed he’d done things a …

2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen. Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 …

2020, Movies

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020, Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan)

I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now. This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel …

2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole …